Geneva proudly accepts Super Bowl relics Hanni
When Larry Hanni walked down the graduation aisle at Geneva High School in 1954, it never crossed his mind that he would some day be chaperoned by the Indianapolis Police Department as a Super Bowl play clock official in this year's event between New England and the New York Giants.
Hanni has been employed by the National Football League for 28 years. His biggest task has been running the play clock for all of the Indianapolis Colts home games but he has also run the clock for such playoff games as Pittsburgh and Baltimore; New York Jets and Cincinnati; and Chicago and Carolina.
"I have timed 282 games," said Hanni. "I have always run the play clock. I run the 40-second clock, 25-second clock, or anything else from 40 seconds down to zero. I can't say what an honor it was to be able to run the clock for the Super Bowl this year.
"The day of the Super Bowl, Marilyn and I went to church. I helped serve communion. After communion, I had to leave immediately to meet at a hotel for lunch with other officials," explained Hanni.
Those present, according to Hanni, included three guys in the timing booth, seven guys on the field, five alternate officials, the vice president of the officiating association and the regional supervisor for officials.
"Once we were done eating lunch, they put us all in a big chartered bus and gave us a police escort to the stadium. Following the game, we were taken and served a big buffet," noted Hanni. "I couldn't believe this was happening. It was a long way from Geneva, Indiana.
"Obviously before the game you are apprehensive," continued Hanni. "Once the game starts, you are locked in to what you are doing and you are focused on the job you have to do. We are evaluated on paper after every game. You can't believe the stress in that position. When that game ended, as close as it was at the end, my hands were just wet.
"This was certainly a highlight of my career," added Hanni. "I work all of these games with the Colts; they've had a good run, and then to do all of these playoff games and then end up doing the Super Bowl. To have the opportunity to do all of this is a pretty humbling experience."
Hanni said that in spite of the stress involved in timing, he would like to continue to do it as long as he can emotionally and mentally carry on the responsibilities of the job.
In addition to working for the NFL, Hanni has also spent 50 consecutive years in education, 35 years with the Franklin Community School Corporation and 15 years with MSD of Lawrence Township in Indianapolis. During that time, he has received an award as the National Athletic Director of the Year, the prestigious Governor Otis Bowen Sagamore of the Wabash award, the key to the city of Indianapolis and received an award with the Melvin Jones Fellowship through Lions Club International.
Concerning the mementos recently given to Geneva, Hanni said that even when he was present at the big event, he kept thinking about his friends and background in Adams County and all that his childhood in Geneva had meant to him.
"As I sat there that day, I thought, 'what can I give back to my hometown for the role it has played in my life,'" Hanni said. "I called Andrew Briggs and told him I had a replica of the game ball that I wanted to donate to the town of Geneva. He was more than delighted to accept it."
In addition, Hanni presented Briggs with a game program, a copy of his credentials, a picture of himself (Hanni) in the booth that day, Super Bowl lapel pin and a card given to all officials explaining what to do in certain situations that might come up in the game.
"The town of Geneva is so proud of Larry," said Briggs, who noted that the game relics are on display in the front of the town hall. "For him to be from Geneva and to do so well in life, an outstanding career, an outstanding educator is quite an honor.
"Every time I watched that clock stop and start, I kept saying to myself, 'and to think that someone from Geneva is in control of that," continued Briggs. "That gave me quite a sense of thrill."
"It was a great, great experience to work the Super Bowl, but I still have real deep roots in Geneva," Hanni said. "If I could just give back a little bit; I have real deep feeling for my hometown. Even though I was able to work the Super Bowl, there is nothing that means more to me than from being from the small town of Geneva."
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